ICCTA Pacesetter Award

2003 Nominees

Lisandra Martinez
Student advocate
Elgin Community College
Elgin Community College (1999)

After completing Elgin Community College one semester early, honor student Lisandra Martinez accepted two government internships in Washington, D.C., and graduated from George Washington University at age 20. She then returned to her alma mater to serve as the liaison for area high school students interested in becoming bilingual educators. "ECC has been my family, my second home, my place of learning, and a launch pad for my professional life," she says. "I had no idea that this institution would play such an important role in my life."

Cathy Anderson
Registered dental hygienist / Adjunct faculty
Lewis and Clark Community College
Lewis and Clark Community College (1998)

RDHmagazine describes Cathy Anderson as "a practicing hygienist, a dental educator, and is sometimes known to dress up as ‘Flossie' the beaver!" A former grade school instructor, she designed and now teaches a Lewis and Clark Community College class to prepare hygiene students for their National Written Board Exam. In 2002 she received the John O. Butler/RDH "Healthy Gums Healthy Life™ Award of Distinction. "Being able to integrate my teaching skills into my new career has been a dream come true!" she says.

John L. Cain
President / Chief executive officer
Scot Forge Company
McHenry County College (2002)

John Cain began working at Scot Forge in 1978 to earn money for college. Twenty-five years later, he has risen from blacksmith to president and earned his associate degree, thanks to on-site management classes from McHenry County College. "As an employer in this county, I am pleased such a program exists," Cain says. "This is particularly important to students who are trying to juggle professional and family obligations like I was."

Lester F. Catlin
Retired business owner
Delta Electronics
Moraine Valley Community College (1999)

As a World War II veteran, Lester Catlin's family and work responsibilities prevented him from taking advantage of the G.I. Bill. After 50 years of dreaming of a college education, he enrolled in classes at Moraine Valley Community College. Now at age 82, this lifelong learner is pursuing his master's degree in English literature. "My only regret is that I didn't start my education sooner," Catlin says.

Tanja Dorr
Adjunct faculty in continuing education
Kaskaskia College
Kaskaskia College (2002)

A native of Germany, Tanja Dorr is a single parent who enrolled in Kaskaskia College's computer technology program despite her lack of English proficiency. "Thanks to their help, today I am a naturalized U.S. citizen, have earned my A.A.S. in computer information systems, and I am well on my way to earn my B.A.S. in information systems technology. Without Kaskaskia College I would not be anywhere close to where I am today," she says.

Columba Gaytan-Morales
Student support specialist and ENLACE fellow
College of Lake County
College of Lake County (1999)

Columba Gaytan-Morales' family immigrated to the United States from Mexico when she was 14. The first in her family to attend and complete college in the U.S., she now mentors Latino youth to encourage them to pursue higher education. Gaytan-Morales is also working on her masters degree and plans to attend law school. "The College of Lake County helped me overcome my (language and financial) barriers," she says. "I know that attending the College of Lake County made my dreams of getting an education a reality."

Charity Heller
Math teacher
Rochelle Township High School
Kishwaukee College (2000)

Charity Heller graduated from Kishwaukee College with a perfect GPA and attendance record while raising her son and volunteering for numerous community service projects. "It was at Kishwaukee that I found my calling – teaching," she says. "It was in the classroom at Kishwaukee that I gained my commitment to learning, and it is in my own classroom today at Rochelle High School that I strive to instill that same commitment in other students."

Patrick M. High
Graduate assistant in continuing education
University of Illinois at Springfield
Spoon River College (1999)

Patrick High's commitment to public service is evident in the classroom as well as the workplace. A past president of Spoon River College's Phi Theta Kappa honor society, he currently leads a human-rights organization at the University of Illinois. In addition, as a member of the Illinois National Guard, he has volunteered for medical-service missions in central America. Commenting on his community college years, he notes, "I did not just go to school or work, I became part of the community at Spoon River. The sense of belonging enhanced my educational experience."

Tom Krieglstein
Professional speaker
WoW! Concepts
College of DuPage (2001)

Unmotivated by a "confining" high school experience, Tom Krieglstein admits his first year at the College of DuPage "consisted of sleeping, working on campus and schoolwork (in that order)." Caring teachers and involvement in campus activities helped him uncover hidden leadership skills. In 2001, he was one of only 20 students in the country named to USA Today's All-USA Two-Year College Academic First Team. He now shares his "average to All-American" story as a motivational speaker with his own company, WoW! Concepts.

Iza Marie Piasecki
Business manager
American Chevrolet Oldsmobile Cadillac
Danville Area Community College (1999)

Iza Piasecki's initial college experience at a private university had not been a positive one. Making a new start at Danville Area Community College, she went from straight "D's" to the Dean's List. "My instructors took a personal interest in me," she recalls. "They noticed when I didn't come to class and would call me on it. It's hard to face your biology instructor at the mall when you skipped her lab that morning." Piasecki has since earned a bachelor's degree in business, received two excellence awards from General Motors, and plans to open her own car dealership.

Daniel Siegfried
Fund sales team, Managed products department
A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc.
Southwestern Illinois College (1998)

A first-generation college student from a rural community, Daniel Siegfried notes that "from the first day I stepped into class at Southwestern Illinois College, the faculty made me feel that they cared about my education." That caring atmosphere has helped him advance to the sales team of a Fortune 500 company within three years of graduation. Active in the business honor society Phi Beta Lambda, Siegfried received the Illinois Phi Beta Lambda's Businessman of the Year Award in 2001.

David Stewart
Supervisor, Information technology department
Archer Daniels Midland Company
Richland Community College (1999)

Putting his family life and full-time job on hold, David Stewart enrolled at Richland Community College in "a leap of faith." His fortitude was not lost on his fellow students, who elected him president of the Student Senate and the Black Student Association. He also received four merit scholarships and Richland's 1998 Student Leadership Award. Still pursuing his educational goals, Stewart is working on his master of divinity degree from Illinois Baptist College.

Zeppelyn Dawn Venable
Speech language pathologist
Therapeutic Integration Services, Inc.
John A. Logan College (1998).

Honor student Zeppelyn Venable's childhood triumph over a learning disability inspired her to seek a career helping other children with special needs. Sign language classes at John A. Logan College led her to enter the field of speech and language pathology. Now working with autistic children, Venable says her future plans include completing her doctoral degree, writing a children's book, and using the book's proceeds to create a scholarship fund. "I appreciate John A. Logan College for laying the foundation for my dreams and goals to pursue a career helping children," she says.